Vehicle age limit reduction, cause of high clearing cost
. Customs blamed for pegging age to 9 years
. Toyota Matrix duty shoots up to N1.3m
By Okezie Nnadi
Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) alleged abrupt reduction of the age limit of vehicles from 12 to nine years has been blamed for the sudden astronomical rise in the cost of their clearance at the nation’s sea ports.
With VIN-valuation, the new age limit nine years is said to pop up ex-factory prices of vehicles from the system, which when computed at 20 per cent duty rate, clearance costs becomes unaffordable to the owners.
The situation is made worse by the attendant delays and the resultant demurrage charges on the automobiles following the inherent challenges in the newly introduced valuation system.
Consequently, since the total clearing costs become quite humongous and unaffordable, vehicle owners have decided to abandon them at the ports.
These were the assertions of stakeholders as contained in the communiqué of the recently held Maritime Journalists Association of Nigeria (MAJAN) Roundtable which took place at the association’s Apapa, Lagos, secretariat.
The periodic maritime talk-show had in attendance, representatives of the National Association of Government Approved Freight Forwarders (NAGAFF) and Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA).
Other participants were the chieftains of African Association of Professional Freight Forwarders and Logistics in Nigeria (APFFLON), National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA) and maritime journalists.
To avoid incessant confusion in the system usually occasioned by the infusion of unfriendly policies for revenue enhancement, the participants were emphatic in their clamour for the appointment of career officers in the headship of the NCS going forward.
“The forum noted with concern the reduction of age limit of imported vehicles to 9 years instead of the 12 years Customs canvassed during stakeholders’ sensitization meetings.
“Due to the confusion in the system, a lot of delays is encountered by vehicle owners with the attendant demurrage charges which have made clearing costs so high that these automobiles are now abandoned in the ports by their owners.
“So far there has been no reprieve from any quarter as to assuaging the accumulated demurrage encountered by importers for a problem not caused by them.
“Consequently, while the terminals are congested with abandoned vehicles, no revenue accruing to their operators; Customs is losing revenue as output is on a downward journey”, the communiqué stated.
As a result, the participants advised that “The NCS should stick to the 12 years age limit for vehicles it had canvassed before the introduction of the scheme instead of the 9 years presently obtainable.
“A situation where the duty of common automobiles such as Gulf, Toyota Corolla and Martix has gone up from N300, 000 to N500, 000 it used to be, to N1.0 million to N1.3 million is unacceptable as it has made vehicles unaffordable for ordinary Nigerians”.
The communiqué concluded, “Henceforth, government should ensure that only career Customs officers are appointed as Comptrollers General of the NCS. This is to avoid unnecessary trade bottlenecks in the system which well grounded career officers would not infuse into the system”.